You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown

You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown is a Broadway musical based on the Peanuts comic strip, featuring familiar characters like Lucy, Snoopy and Schroeder. It's a feel-good musical, laced with life philosophy and heartfelt comment on the world, through bright, wide-eyed innocence.

It doesn't always hit the mark but there are plenty of enjoyable moments.

The company is a sixth form theatre group and their youthfulness is reflected in their mostly energetic and spunky performances. It's a great show for the company to do as it allows everyone to get involved. Their voices and characterisation are fine but inconsistent, although the range of some characters don’t quite match that of the actors playing them. The cast have the challenge of portraying characters that were originally cartoons, which can be difficult not to make sickening. We discover that it works best and is funniest when the characters become more like real people. Bronwen Davies Jones, as Sally, is a great example of this, as she is true to stereotype while leaving room for authenticity in her performance. Some of the showstopper numbers, for instance Suppertime, lack the required energy to leave a lasting impression, although Jonny McGuigan as Schroeder gives a great attempt at leading his number, Beethoven Day.

The show is wonderfully written, with montage sections stuffed full of one-liners and recurring jokes. It makes us giggle and the touching moments stand out too. Some inventive props and costume add to the comic strip theme to the show and direction is strong in places with some satisfying surprises. However, the cast just wasn’t strong enough to make full use of the show’s potential. Likewise, the choreography and harmony is too simple to be impressive.

Using backing tracks mean we get the full band and orchestra experience which otherwise wouldn't have been possible in a fringe venue but it makes the introductions to songs awkward and results in several false starts. Using only a piano keyboard instead would have made the accompaniment feel more organic and provided better support for the performers, while we wouldn't have noticeably missed out on the rest of the orchestration.

This is a clever show, performed by an enthusiastic company. It doesn't always hit the mark but there are plenty of enjoyable moments.

Reviews by Cara Ballingall

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Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
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Performances

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The Blurb

Welcome to Hell, where children are paralysed by insecurities, psychologically dependent upon comforting objects and the family canine is better well-adjusted to the limitations of existence than its owner. Welcome to the dystopi… Forget it. If you’re after the traditional Violet Shock black comedy, don’t bother coming; we tried to give You’re a Good Man our usual spin ... and failed. It’s a joyous, witty, musical gem for all ages. Come see it! You’ll leave with a new philosophy of life and will have remembered how to find happiness in the smallest things!

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